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Revealed: Rudiger gave Lunin a signal to save Kovacic’s penalty

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Photo by PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Real Madrid defender Antonio Rudiger is well-versed with Manchester City midfielder Mateo Kovacic, having shared the field with the Croatian during their time at Chelsea.

On Wednesday, the former teammates crossed paths and although Kovacic’s side was better on paper, Rudiger had the last laugh as Madrid are now in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

The match needed a penalty shootout to decide the winner and while credit is due to Andriy Lunin for blocking Bernardo Silva and Kovacic, one must point out to the instance when the Croatian was about to take charge.

Interestingly, the former Chelsea centre-back was seen signalling to Lunin where Kovacic was going to shoot his penalty, as a result of which, the Ukrainian saved the spot-kick.

Rudiger showcased his leadership in Real Madrid’s defence during the entire match, delivering a stellar performance against a formidable attack. 

Antonio Rudiger and Mateo Kovacic have played together at Chelsea. (Photo by OSCAR DEL POZO/AFP via Getty Images)

His standout moment came in the shootout, where he clinched the decisive goal, sealing Madrid’s victory. Throughout the game, he orchestrated the defence, working tirelessly alongside his teammates to neutralize City’s aerial threats.

However, with just 15 minutes remaining, Madrid’s hopes of holding onto Rodrygo’s 1-0 lead were dashed when Rudiger’s mistake led to Kevin De Bruyne’s equalizer. 

Despite this setback, Madrid remained resilient, with Rudiger drawing strength from his error, supported by the likes of Nacho. 

As the game entered extra time, Madrid gained momentum, particularly after Erling Haaland’s departure, eventually reaching the climax: a penalty shootout. In this tense moment, Madrid held their nerve, while City faltered. 

Eventually, crucial saves from Lunin and Rudiger’s successful penalty secured Madrid’s triumph over the reigning champions, solidifying their status as Europe’s top contenders.

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid identify two major areas of threat from Borussia Dortmund

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Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

The players in the Real Madrid dressing room are well aware that they are considered the favourites for the upcoming Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund. 

According to journalist Jorge Picon, the team’s performance in the final stages of the season has boosted their confidence and everyone in the squad believes they have a great chance of winning the final.

Despite this, though, there are some concerns about one player and two potential threats from the opposition. 

Now, Real Madrid are good at handling the pressure that comes with being the favourites, but they know that Dortmund are a team that cannot be underestimated.

Real Madrid aware of the threat Dortmund pose

This confidence, however, does not translate into arrogance. Real Madrid understand that Dortmund have the ability to cause them problems. 

To address this, manager Carlo Ancelotti must focus on two key challenges: dealing with offensive transitions and defending set pieces.

Dortmund are not a team that exert high pressure on their opponents, but they are very dangerous on the counterattack. 

Borussia Dortmund are very dangerous in set pieces. (Photo by MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP via Getty Images)

They play a direct and vertical style of football, relying on quick, few-touch plays to move the ball up the field. Instead of building play slowly from the back, they often utilise Mats Hummels’ ability to make precise long passes to players running behind the defence.

In terms of set pieces, Dortmund pose a significant threat with their tall players, as Niclas Fullkrug, Mats Hummels, and Nico Schlotterbeck are all over 1.90 meters tall, making them dangerous targets during corner kicks and free kicks.

Dortmund’s forwards are quick

Speed is another factor that Real Madrid need to be wary of. This is because Karim Adeyemi is a particularly fast player who can break through defensive lines with his runs. 

He usually plays on the wing and can switch sides with Jadon Sancho, but Adeyemi is considered Dortmund’s main offensive weapon due to his pace and ability to exploit spaces. 

While Sancho is also a skilled dribbler who can take on defenders one-on-one, Real Madrid has two reliable full-backs in Dani Carvajal and Ferland Mendy who will be tasked with stopping him.

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